Live and Let Die - Roger Moore's James Bond Diary

Roger Moore's James Bond Diary was first published in 1973 and is a fascinating and often very amusing account of the shooting of Live and Let Die - his debut film as James Bond. 'It began on Sunday, 8 October 1972,' begins Moore. 'When, as the new James Bond, I left England in a blaze of publicity for the first location in New Orleans. We flew via New York and the journey was hysterical. Danny Kaye was aboard and he started on the stewardesses straight away. While the girl was standing up in front of the jumbo jet trying to show everybody how to put on a life jacket, there was Danny sitting there miming exactly what the poor girl was doing.' The book is a great insight into the huge logistical operation involved in putting together a James Bond film with tons of equipment flying to different corners of the world with the various crews and always of particular interest to Bond fans who have probably seen the finished film countless times. It is of course also always pleasant and enjoyable to be in the warm and witty company of the self-deprecating Roger Moore as he dispenses anecdotes, sends himself up, plays practical jokes on Yaphet Kotto and also details his social life during the shoot with various famous people - some in the film and some not - flitting in and out of the diary. Not many people, I suspect, can say, as Moore does here, that Kirk Douglas turned up at his house in Denham on Christmas Day to say hello!

Moore's first days of filming as the new 007 concern the famous speedboat chase sequence in a  Louisiana bayou and the actor manages to have a accident fairly swiftly into the shoot that leaves him with a dodgy leg and a fractured tooth. 'How on earth did I get myself into this situation?' muses Moore who then jokes that he might end up playing Bond with no teeth at this rate! Moore's passages about being signed to become the new Bond and his thoughts on the prospect are always very interesting with some fascinating titbits for 007 fans who have followed the series for as long as they can remember. 'When I first knew  was going to do Bond,' says Moore. 'Harry Saltzman, who co-produces with Cubby Broccoli, said it must be kept secret but he wanted me to meet the director Guy Hamilton. We met at Scott's in Mayfair, in true Bond-style, over a dozen oysters and martinis. I confessed to Guy that in reading the script I could only ever hear Sean's voice saying; "My name is Bond." In fact, as I vocalized to myself I found I was giving it a Scottish accent!' Hamilton tells Moore that Sean was Sean and he will do it in his own way and that's about all there is to it.

The process of making a film is always quite surprising when the mechanics are laid bare. Moore, for example, is on set for weeks before he even gets a couple of lines of dialogue to say and one of the very last things he shoots is the scene with the lovely Madeline Smith where Bond uses his magnetic LED watch to unzip her dress in his flat - a scene that actually begins the finished film after the title sequence. This takes place in a slightly chilly and draughty Pinewood set and Moore's account of shooting the scene is very funny at times. 'It may seem like money for jam pressed close to the beautiful Madeline Smith and taking her clothes off into the bargain, but on the twentieth take your arm is aching, you've got cramp in your left foot and you're right knee is going to sleep. When I got home the children asked me what I did today and I wasn't quite sure what to tell them. I could hardly say I was in bed with a lady this morning and I made twenty attempts to take her dress off!'

There are some great anecdotes in the diaries. When Moore's good friend David Hedison arrives to play Felix Leiter, Moore confesses that he always greets Hedison by mimicking his famous last line in the original version The Fly. I loved the story too where Moore's young son asks him if he could beat up James Bond and Moore patiently explains that he is James Bond now. 'I know that,' sighs his son. 'I mean the real James Bond...Sean Connery.' Moore is always generous and warm towards his co-stars and there are some interesting titbits scattered through the book. Jane Seymour arrives inbetween her commitments on the television series The Onedin Line - where Cubby and Harry first spotted her - and Yaphet Kotto, who plays the villain Mr Big, gives a 'black power salute' during his first 007 photo call. 'Whether he was serious or not I don't know,' says Moore. 'But the sequel was a scorching row.' Moore is soon fond of Kotto though and playing jokes on him. He's also gushing in his praise for Geoffry Holder - who plays Baron Samedi in the film and choreographs the voodoo dance capers - and Gloria Hendry who plays Rosie. 'A little light has gone out of our lives with the leaving of lovely Gloria who has completed her scenes and gone off on an Austrian holiday where her warm exuberance is probably melting the mountain snow.' Moore reprints a mad racist letter in the diaries he received from some batty woman telling him she always followed his career since The Saint but will no longer do so because he's canoodling onscreen with a black actress.

Interestingly, Harry Saltzman features in the diary far more than fellow Bond producer Cubby Broccoli. The pair seemed to sort of alternate on the Bond films it appears and Live and Let Die is largely overseen by Saltzman who comes across as a colourful character who - not unlike 007 - is rather fastidious about his food and drink and the social aspects of shooting. 'Outside it was about ninety degrees as I washed my Creole shrimps down with a very nice light American beer,' says Moore. 'Harry, and Jackie his wife, were helping theirs down with a white wine but Harry was screaming because it wasn't the Chablis he had ordered to be put on ice.' Moore says that co-producer Cubby Broccoli once said that if the gourmet Harry had been at the Last Supper he probably would have sent it back! Moore tells an amusing story about Broccoli too when Cubby arrives on the set. Broccoli brings a journalist from London who he had invited to dinner. The journalist was unaware that Cubby's invitation to dinner was at a plush New Orlean's restaurant 4,000 miles away! The meal was probably worth it suggests Moore. It's enjoyable to be with these larger than life characters and showmen and a little sad to think that this fun pop culture juggernaught is now in the hands of Broccoli's somewhat grating and pretentious daughter.

One other enjoyable aspect to the book are the descriptions of the various locales, especially when the production moves to the West Indies and Moore is living in a plush residence and taking a swim each morning before filming. 'From the terrace of our two bedroomed split-level apartment set in the hillside I can hear the limpid caribbean waters below lapping the pink terracotta walls. Terraced walks surround two azure swimming pools and tropical flowers of every hue peek out of the palm fronds and lush green vegetation. Multi-coloured birds, competing with the flowers for beauty, chirp cheerfully; and why not? They know they are living in Paradise.'

Roger Moore's James Bond Diary is a fun read on the whole with plenty of amusing moments and interesting insights into the production of a James Bond film. Highly recommended for any Bond fan.

- Jake


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